The Kakori conspiracy (also called the Kakori train robbery or Kakori Case, was a train robbery that took place between Kakori and Alamnagar, near Lucknow, on 9 August 1925 during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Indian Government. The robbery was organised by the Hindustan Republican Association.
The robbery was conceived by Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah Khan who belonged to the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), which became later the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. This organisation was established to carry out revolutionary activities against the British Empire in India with the object of achieving independence. Since the organization needed money for purchase of weaponry, and rich people of society were not helping them due to fear of the government, Bismil and his party decided to plunder a train on one of the Northern Railway lines. The robbery plan was executed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Rajendra Lahiri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sachindra Bakshi, Keshab Chakravarthy, Manmathnath Gupta, Murari Sharma (fake name of Murari Lal Gupta), Mukundi Lal (Mukundi Lal Gupta) and Banwari Lal. One passenger was killed by an accidental shot.
On August 9, 1925, the Number 8 Down Train travelling from Saharanpur to Lucknow was approaching the town of Kakori (now in Uttar Pradesh), when one of the revolutionaries pulled the chain to stop the train and overpowered the guard. It is believed that they looted that specific train because the train was supposed to carry the money-bags belonging to the British Government Treasury in the guard's cabin. One passenger was killed by an accidental shot, making it a murder case. They looted only these bags and escaped to Lucknow while not a single Indian was looted, because the targets of the mission were:
- To get money for the organization which was intended to get it from the opponent British Administration itself.
- To get some public attention by creating a positive image of the HRA among Indians to overcome the bad image of the HRA which was created by British Administration.
- To shake the British Administration by taking away money from them.
Following the incident, started an intense manhunt and arrested several of the revolutionaries involved in the HRA. Their group captain Ram Prasad Bismil was arrested at Saharanpur on September 26, 1925, and his lieutenant Ashfaqullah Khan was arrested ten months later at Delhi.
In this historical case 40 persons were arrested from all over India. Their names with the place of arrest are:
- From Agra
- Chandra Dhar Jauhari
- Chandra Bhal Jauhari
- From Allahabad
- Shitala Sahai
- Jyoti Shankar Dixit
- Bhupendra Nath Sanyal
- From Banaras
- Manmathnath Gupta
- Damodar Swarup Seth
- Ram Nath Pandey
- Dev Datt Bhattacharya
- Indra Vikram Singh
- Mukundi Lal
- From Bengal
- Shachindra Nath Sanyal
- Yogesh Chandra Chatterjii
- Rajendra Lahiri
- Sharat Chandra Guha
- Kali Das Bose
- From Etah
- Babu Ram Verma
- From Hardoi
- Bhairon Singh
- From Kanpur
- Ram Dulare Trivedi
- Gopi Mohan
- Raj Kumar Sinha
- Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya
- From Lahore
- Mohan Lal Gautam
- From Lakhimpur
- Harnam Sundarlal
- From Lucknow
- Govind Charan Kar
- Shachindra Nath Vishvas
- From Mathura
- Shiv Charan Lal Sharma (Warrant was issued against Mr. Sharma but he was not arrested because he fled to Pondicherry Mob- 9457333857)
- From Meerut
- Vishnu Sharan Dublish
- From Orai
- Veer Bhadra Tiwari
- From Poona
- Ram Krishna Khatri
- From Raibareli
- Banwari Lal
- From Shahjahanpur
- Ram Prasad Bismil
- Banarsi Lal
- Lala Har Govind
- Prem Krishna Khanna
- Indubhushan Mitra
- Thakur Roshan Singh
- Ram Dutt Shukla
- Madan Lal
- Ram Ratna Shukla
- Ashfaqulla Khan
- From Pratapgarh
- Shachindra Nath Bakshi
Amongst the above persons, three viz. Shachindra Nath Sanyal, Rajendra Lahiri and Yogesh Chandra Chatterji had already been arrested in Bengal. Lahiri was prosecuted even in a Dakshineshwar bomb blast case whereas the two viz. Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindra Bakshi were arrested later when the main Kakori Conspiracy Case was over. A supplementary case was filed against these two and they were procecuted in the same manner.
Ram Prasad Bismil and some others were charged with various offences, including robbery and murder. Fifteen people had been released due to lack of evidence and a further five had absconded. Two of the absconders — Ashfaqullah Khan and Sachindra Bakshi — were captured after the trial, while one of the others, Chandrasekhar Azad, reorganised the HRA in 1928 and shot himself on 27 February 1931 at Alfred Park, Allahabad.
Charges pressed against a further four men were dropped. Damodar Swarup Seth was discharged due to illness, while Veer Bhadra Tiwari, Jyoti Shankar Dixit and Shiv Charan Lal have been suspected of providing information to the authorities. A further two people - Banarsi Lal and Indu Bhushan Mitra - became approvers: they helped the prosecution, as also did Banwari Lal in return for a lenient sentence of two years imprisonment.
Session court's proceedings
After the withdrawal of the case against 15 accused and fixing the approvers by Special Magistrate Syed Ainuddin with the help of Dy. S.P. (C.I.D.) Khan Bahadur Tasadduk Husain, the final case against 28 accused started on 21 May 1926 in the special session court of A. Hamilton. Abbas Salim Khan, Banwari Lal Bhargava, Gyan Chattarjee and Mohd Ayuf were the assessers of the case. Among these 28, three accused viz. Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee and Rajendra Nath Lahiri were dragged into the trial from Bengal, where they had been held.
Court appointed Jagat Narayan Mulla as public prosecutor knowingly, because Jagat Narayan had been prejudiced against Ram Prasad Bismil since 1916, when Bismil led the grand procession of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak at Lucknow. He had also been the public procecutor in the Mainpuri conspiracy case of 1918.
Jagat Narayan Mulla pled the case as public prosecutor on behalf of the Government, whereas Ram Prasad Bismil defended his case himself.
Final verdict of court
Following the arrest of Ashfaqullah Khan, the police tried to make him provide evidence against his accomplices, but he refused. Another supplementary case was filed against Ashfaqulla Khan and Sachindra Bakshi in the court of Special Sessions Judge J.R.W. Bennett. An appeal was filed in the then Chief Court of Oudh (now in U.P.) on 18 July 1927.
Despite protests by the defence committee, which was chaired by Gobind Ballabh Pant, four of the accused, namely Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqullah Khan, Rajendra Nath Lahiri and Roshan Singh, were sentenced to death by the Court of Justice. 16 others were either given life sentences or long prison terms varying from 3 years to 14 years. Banwari Lal, who became approver, was also sentenced for 2 years.
Hunger strike in the jail
After final judgement of court, the group photograph was taken and all the accused were sent to the different jails of United Province. They were asked to put off their clothes and wear the jail dress like other prisoners. All the accused protested this jail order and started hunger strikes on the first day. Their plea was quite genuine. They argued that since the all have been charged to overturn the British rule and have been punished under section 120(B) and 121(A) hence they should be treated as political prisoners and provided the same facilities in the jails.
The details of their hunger strike are given hereunder:
|Name of the prisoner||Name of the jail||Days of hunger strike|
|Ram Prasad Bismil||Gorakhpur Central jail||4 days (from 7-4-1927 to 11-4-1927)|
|Roshan Singh||Allahabad Jail||6 days (from 7-4-1927 to 13-4-1927)|
|Ram Nath Pandey||Raibareli District jail||11 days (from 7-4-1927 to 18-4-1927)|
|Prem Krishna Khanna||Dehradun District jail||16 days (from 7-4-1927 to 23-4-1927)|
|Suresh Chandra Bhattacharya||Agra Central jail||19 days (from 7-4-1927 to 26-4-1927)|
|Ram Krishna Khatri||Agra Central jail||32 days (from 7-4-1927 to 9-5-1927)|
|Mukundi Lal||Bareilly District jail||32 days (from 7-4-1927 t0 9-5-1927)|
|Raj Kumar Sinha||Bareilly District jail||38 days (from 7-4-1927 to 15-5-1927)|
|Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee||Fatehgarh jail||41 days (from 7-4-1927 to 18-5-1927)|
|Ram Dulare Trivedi||Fatehgarh jail||41 days (from 7-4-1927 to 18-5-1927)|
|Govind Charan Kar||Fatehgarh jail||41 days (from 7-4-1927 to 18-5-1927)|
|Manmath Nath Gupta||Naini Allahabad jail||45 days (from 7-4-1927 to 22-5-1927)|
|Vishnu Sharan Dublish||Naini Allahabad jail||45 days (from 7-4-1927 to 22-5-1927)|
The legal defence for the arrested revolutionaries was provided by Gobind Ballabh Pant, Mohan Lal Saxena, Chandra Bhanu Gupta, Ajit Prasad Jain, Gopi Nath Srivastava, R. M. Bahadurji and B. K. Chaudhury and Kripa Shankar Hajela. Pandit Jagat Narayan Mulla, a leading advocate from Lucknow and brother in law of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru refused to take up the defence of the arrested revolutionaries. He was appointed as Public Prosecutor by the law of Court.
Among the political figures who came out in support of those arrested for the Kakori train robbery were: Motilal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malviya, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, Shiv Prasad Gupta, Shri Prakash and Acharya Narendra Dev.
Reaction in the country
There were widespread protests against the Court's decision all over the country, and members of the Central Legislature even petitioned the Viceroy of India to commute the death sentences given to the four men to life sentences. Appeals were also sent to the Privy Council and even to Mohandas K. Gandhi himself. However, these requests were turned down and the men were finally executed.
Final Mercy Appeal rejected
On 22 August 1927, the Chief Court endorsed the original judgement with an exception of one or two punishments. A mercy appeal was filed in due course before the Provincial Governor of U.P. by the members of legislative council which was dismissed. Ram Prasad Bismil wrote a letter to Madan Mohan Malviya on 9 September 1927 from Gorakhpur Jail. Malviya sent a memorandum to the then Viceroy and Governor General of India Edward Fredrick Lindley Wood with the signatures of 78 Members of Central Legislature, which was also turned down.
On 16 September 1927, the final mercy appeal was forwarded to Privy Council at London and to the King Emperor through a famous lawyer of England S.L. Polak but the British Government, who had already decided to hang them, sent their final decision to the India office of Viceroy that all the four condemned prisoners are to be hanged till death by 19 December 1927 positively.
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 117.
- Dr. Mahaur Bhagwandas Kakori Shaheed Smriti page 30
- Sharma Vidyarnav Yug Ke Devta : Bismil Aur Ashfaq page 118
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 124-125.
- क्रान्त (2006). Swadhinta Sangram Ke Krantikari Sahitya Ka Itihas (in Hindi) 2 (1 ed.). New Delhi: Praveen Prakashan. p. 549. ISBN 81-7783-120-8
- Dr. Mehrotra N.C. & Dr. Tandon Manisha page-136
- Dr. Mehrotra N. C. Swatantrata Andolan Mein Shahjahanpur Ka Yogdan page 130.
- Gupta, Amit Kumar (Sep. - Oct. 1997). "Defying Death: Nationalist Revolutionism in India, 1897-1938". Social Scientist 25 (9/10): 3–27. JSTOR 3517678. (subscription required)